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Vol. 47, No. 1 • November 2009 • .pdf version
In changing world, USBWA members prove adaptability
By STEVE CARP / Las Vegas Review-Journal
I ran into UNLV coach Lon Kruger in early October, at a tennis tournament no less, and it served as a reminder that basketball season is upon us.
It has been an interesting summer to say the least, as the economy has impacted our profession in ways we never dreamed possible.
Think about it.
Did you ever believe the day would come when you wouldn't have a media guide at your beck and call to refer to at courtside while on deadline?
How much would you have wagered that accompanying you to your team's home games would be a fellow staffer from your newspaper whose job it was to blog? Stuff that would normally appear in a "notebook" crafted by you for the newspaper is suddenly on your paper's Web site in the form of a blog.
You're probably asked to Tweet by the paper. You more than likely have a Facebook page sponsored by your paper.
Everything you write that appears in your paper's online edition includes comments at the bottom of your story from readers who pretty much rip you anonymously. You know, real brave souls who would never have the guts to put their name on anything they write.
Yeah, it's a different world all right, a world that is changing by the week.
As newspapers shrink or disappear altogether, as budgets gets slashed to the bone, as you are asked to do more "New Media" things, some of you are asking yourselves, "Is all of this worth it?"
How many of you are going to the NCAA Tournament or the Final Four in Indianapolis next April if your team doesn't make it? How many of you aren't even going to go on the road with your own team this season because your boss has been told to watch his or her budget and he or she decides it's cheaper to pay a stringer $50 instead of sending you on the road?
Even in a perfect world, we'd be dealing with issues. We're sitting in seats behind the basket or sharing press row with well-heeled boosters. Stats won't get delivered on time, if at all. The Wi-Fi is probably going to go out while we're on deadline trying to file. Access to players is still going to be limited after games. Practices will be closed.
Flights will be delayed. Hotel rooms won't be ready. The cigarette lighter in the rental car won't work, which means you won't be able to charge your cell phone or Blackberry. You'll try to findsomewhere to eat after you filedyour story following an ESPN Big Monday game that tipped off at 10 p.m., and you'll be lucky to finda drive-thru window at a fast-food joint open that late.
Yet we can deal with all of that.
Why? Because we love college basketball. We love the excitement. We love the intensity. We love the rivalries.
We love the history that we get to chronicle every time the ball gets thrown up at mid-court and we're hunched over our laptop trying to come up with a witty lead for our story.
We put up with a lot. But in the end, we always manage to make it work for us.
And these new challenges will be handled. We'll learn to deal with media guides in .pdf form.
We'll learn to enjoy the company of our blogger colleagues. We'll accept the tradeoff of not having to get on a plane for a chance to watch our kid's winter band concert or sports activity.
Sure, we'll miss the Marriott points and the frequent-flier miles.
But after going to the same places in your respective leagues year after year after year, don't you think a little break would be nice?
I posed the question earlier, "Is it worth it?"
And despite all the headaches, all the frustration and aggravation, the answer, at least to me, is, "You're darned right it's worth it."
Enjoy the season.
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